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One Christmas

One Christmas (Original post from Positive Mornings December 21, 2011)

sun-behind-snow-covered-pine-tree-400x600Just about everyone has one Christmas that sticks out in their mind. It might be because of a special gift they received, something exciting and important that happened, or the appearance of a special guest that brightened their day. Some of us have memories, also of a Christmas that wasn’t so good. It may be because someone was missing, or sick. It may be because of something drastic happened around that day.

My one Christmas always pops into my mind. It showed me a lot of what Christmas was meant to be. It showed me what people should be doing at Christmas instead of running around spending more money than they have to get what they don’t really need.

Here is a little background that leads up to this Christmas. We had been separated from our mother for six years. She had been in a mental hospital, supposedly for a nervous breakdown, but back then mental care was not that good. We had just come home to her a few months before Christmas, and I was just getting to know this woman who was my mother.

My mother was quiet. She never said a lot. She was strict though, and you quickly learned that disobedience was not allowed. She never asked much of us. We had our little chores but most of the time we were free to run around with our friends.

We lived in an old adobe caretaker’s house, surrounded by historic graveyards that weren’t used anymore. Down the street, past one of the graveyards was the Junior High that attended. Behind the graveyard, over a hill was the mental institution she spent six years in.

Although it sounds creepy, it was peaceful and quiet, and it was all my mother could afford. Her job didn’t pay much so to help with food and bills she did ironing for people, raised chickens in the back yard and sold the eggs, and hand sewed exquisite Barbie Doll clothes for the store around the corner to sell.

Mom had lost her job and was barely making it on the eggs, ironing, Barbie doll clothes and a small pittance that the VA sent her every month for us. When you talk about poor, I guess you could say we were really down and out. That didn’t seem to matter to us. Mom never complained, and neither did we. We had never been raised to be materialistic.

So, this Christmas there was absolutely not a penny to spend. My mother pulled Christmas out of her hat, and I have never forgotten how happy I felt that year. She got a friend to drive us up to the mountains to cut down a tree. It wasn’t real big, but it was fresh and free,

She taught us how to make ornaments out of tin foil, wrapping paper, toilet paper cores and pine cones. She dragged out some old Christmas lights that she had and we put all our decorations on the tree. She then popped popcorn and showed us how to string it. I still think to this day, it was the best Christmas tree we ever had. It was decorated by us, as a family together.

I watched mom take some of her dresses out of the closet, not understanding at the time what she was doing. I crocheted headbands for my sisters and potholders for mom and we volunteered to clean the whole house as a present to mom.

Mom went out and butchered the fattest chicken she had. We had roasted chicken and it tasted better than the biggest turkey ever could. With side dishes and homemade pie we had a wonderful Christmas dinner.

Afterward we made hot chocolate for the carolers that came by. When they left we opened our little gifts. My older sister had given me some of her make-up and some clothes that she didn’t fit into anymore. Little Cindy had drawn a picture for each one of us, and Mom, Mom had taken those dresses apart and made each one of us a new outfit for school.

She popped popcorn, made more hot chocolate and we all sat together on the couch watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Miracle on 34th street”.  Every year I think about this Christmas, where a family who barely knew each other, pulled together and made Christmas all about giving from the heart and loving one another.


One comment on “One Christmas

  1. ‘Tis a wonderful Christmas story!
    You made it sound quaint, cheerful, and fun.

    I love the mood Christmas brings
    because people look their best
    when wearing the smile of charity.

    Thank God for memories! 🙂
    Happy Holidays, Uncle Tree

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